1 Samuel – Chapter 14: Jonathan Attacks the Philistines

In the last book of 1 Samuel (Chapter 13), God has hardened the heart of Saul and as a result the Israelites are once again on the brink of war.  God doesn’t like peace, only war satisfies him.

“One day Jonathan son of Saul said to his young armor-bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the Philistine outpost on the other side.’ But he did not tell his father. – 1 Samuel 14:1

This chapter starts with lying, as do many chapters in the Bible.

“Jonathan said to his young armor-bearer, ‘Come, let’s go over to the outpost of those uncircumcised men. Perhaps the Lord will act in our behalf. Nothing can hinder the Lord from saving, whether by many or by few.’” – 1 Samuel 14:6

Once again, we see the obsession, by the authors of the Bible, of dick tips.  Yes, dick tips play an integral role in many biblical stories.  And yes, there is something that can hinder the Lord.  The Lord himself.  God chooses to not act, regardless of the actions of his ‘creations’.

“If they say to us, ‘Wait there until we come to you,’ we will stay where we are and not go up to them. But if they say, ‘Come up to us,’ we will climb up, because that will be our sign that the Lord has given them into our hands.” – 1 Samuel 14:9

Seriously?  That’s how you’re going to decide what to do?  An action that can turn the tide of this war?

“Jonathan climbed up, using his hands and feet, with his armor-bearer right behind him. The Philistines fell before Jonathan, and his armor-bearer followed and killed behind him.  In that first attack Jonathan and his armor-bearer killed some twenty men in an area of about half an acre.” – 1 Samuel 14:13-14

No, this did not happen.  Jonathan and his armor-bearer, two men, did not kill twenty men in the area.  Why not?  Look at the setup.  Jonathan does not have the element of surprise to his advantage.  The Philistines know he is coming.  Jonathan doesn’t have a geographical advantage either.  He’s climbing up a hill.  Fighting someone above you is MUCH more difficult than fighting someone below you.  Then there’s the ten to one advantage.  Nope, didn’t happen…unless of course you believe in talking donkeys.

“Then panic struck the whole army—those in the camp and field, and those in the outposts and raiding parties—and the ground shook. It was a panic sent by God.” – 1 Samuel 14:15

Or you know, an earthquake.  Earthquakes cause shaking ground.

“Now the Israelites were in distress that day, because Saul had bound the people under an oath, saying, ‘Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!’ So none of the troops tasted food.” – 1 Samuel 14:24

The Israelites are battle weary, yet are denied food?  That’s a stupid move, but one I’m sure God supports.

“But Jonathan had not heard that his father had bound the people with the oath, so he reached out the end of the staff that was in his hand and dipped it into the honeycomb. He raised his hand to his mouth, and his eyes brightened.” – 1 Samuel 14:27

Note that as the verse states, Jonathan did not know of the curse.

“Then someone said to Saul, ‘Look, the men are sinning against the Lord by eating meat that has blood in it.’” – 1 Samuel 14:33

Oh the horror!  Because eating meat with blood in it is the most important thing to God!

“Saul said, ‘Let us go down and pursue the Philistines by night and plunder them till dawn, and let us not leave one of them alive.’” – 1 Samuel 14:36

Including the women, children, and babies!!!  Death to all!!!

“So Saul asked God, ‘Shall I go down and pursue the Philistines? Will you give them into Israel’s hand?’ But God did not answer him that day.” – 1 Samuel 14:37

ROFL!  Of course not.  God’s still pissed that people ate the wrong kind of meat!

“Saul therefore said, ‘Come here, all you who are leaders of the army, and let us find out what sin has been committed today. As surely as the Lord who rescues Israel lives, even if the guilt lies with my son Jonathan, he must die.’ But not one of them said a word.” – 1 Samuel 14:38-39

Uh-oh.  Looks like Jonathan is toast for eating the honey!

“So Jonathan told him, ‘I tasted a little honey with the end of my staff. And now I must die!’” – 1 Samuel 14:43

Maybe, just maybe this is justified if Jonathan had known about the honey eating rule.  But he didn’t!

“But the men said to Saul, ‘Should Jonathan die—he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never! As surely as the Lord lives, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground, for he did this today with God’s help.’ So the men rescued Jonathan, and he was not put to death.” – 1 Samuel 14:45

Where is God?  Nowhere to be found.  Still pissed off at the meat with blood in it I presume.

“All the days of Saul there was bitter war with the Philistines, and whenever Saul saw a mighty or brave man, he took him into his service.” – 1 Samuel 14:52

And why is this?  Oh yeah, God hardened Saul’s heart.

This chapter of 1 Samuel was rather lengthy and included much nonsense, including specific rules about eating meat and honey, as if eating certain foods is an important thing to consider here.  God remains silent and as a result, Jonathan, who knew nothing of the honey eating rule, is almost killed.  It took men more moral than God to rescue Jonathan and save him from death.

Coming Soon:  1 Samuel – Chapter 15:  The Lord Rejects Saul as King

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